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Personnel of the Institute

Director

Steven Muir, Professor of Religious Studies, CUE
(Ph.D. 1998 Religious Studies, University of Ottawa)

Institute Board

  • Vice-President International and Research – Dr. Manfred Zeuch
  • Vice-President Academic and Provost – Dr. Tim Loreman
  • Dean of Arts – Dr. Neil Querengesser
  • Director of Institute – Dr. Steven Muir
  • Board Fellow of Institute – Dr. Dorothy Steffler 

Resident Fellows

Dorothy Steffler, Professor of Psychology, CUE
(Ph.D. 2000 Psychology, University of Alberta)

Zoltan Berkes, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Physics, CUE
(Ph.D. 1978 Applied Geophysics, L. Eotvost, Budapest)

Edgar Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Education, CUE
(Ph.D. 2014 Education, Royal Roads University)

Dale Schlenker, Assistant Professor of Sociology, CUE
(Ph.D. 1992 Sociology, McMaster University)

Visiting Academic Fellows

Catherine Caufield

Assistant Director of Chester Ronning Centre, Augustana/ University of Alberta.  Ph.D. 2000 Religious Studies, University of Toronto

For twenty-three years my research has taken me from the highlands of Guatemala to do ethnographic exploration with Indigenous midwives, to the Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas and work with liberation theologians, Mexico City to study literature with Jewish and non-Jewish writers, and back home to Aboriginal and Christian communities in Alberta. Common themes of polysemic expression of religious experience and ways in which plural discourses co-exist within and between religions emerge and characterize this ongoing work. My published work can be found online at: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Catherine_Caufield

Christine Baghdady

Master of Arts, Political Science, University of Alberta 1999.  Currently in the After-Degree Program in Education (Secondary) at The Kings University.  Lecturer in Political Science and Sociology.

My interests are focused within the context of travel and also to ethical issues and good citizenship in modern society. I have been travelling for most of my adult life and the more I travel the more these journeys pose deeply profound questions for me.  Questions around the relationship between travelling and local culture – does my presence impact the local community and if it does, in what way?  Do I have any responsibility in this impact and what might be my ethical response? Or, what if any changes do I experience in my own thinking as a result of travelling.  How do I see myself and my own community?  Does this happen to others? If it does what is the implication on both my own community as well as the community that was visited?  Other questions revolve around consumption and affluence – understanding the relationship between travelling with one bag of material goods and coming home to an excess of material abundance.   Is this a glaring disconnect between responsible and sustainable consumption and the current fixation with consumption in North America in general and Canada in particular.   These are just a few questions and issues that I have researched and pondered on, along the way.   Some answers are obvious … some require the intersection of ethics and faith….still others require the engagement in the politics and the economics of the community in question.

David Fekete

President, Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action.  Ph.D. 1994 University of Virginia: Doctor of Philosophy (Religion and Literature)

I am interested in the intersection of religion and culture.  I understand literary forms as indicators of cultural values and norms, and as voices of spirituality.  Much of my work is in literary, philosophical, and theological articulations of love.  My specialization is in the work of T.S. Eliot and the modern period with its profound religious questioning—even to the point of espousing the death of God.  I have spoken in, and continue to be interested in the field of esoteric studies, comparing the symbolic language in Emanuel Swedenborg and Hindu alchemy.

Nanna Natalia Karpinska Dam Jørgensen

MPhil in Human Development 2008, PhD (Candidate) in Health & Social Sciences, Volda & Molde University College, Norway.

Research interests: Pilgrimages, Health-promoting activities, Transculturalism, Social interaction dynamics.

Visiting Student Members

Bruce Ferguson

  • Algonquin
  • Member of the Kitigan-Zibi Anishinabeg (Maniwaki, QC)
  • Resident of Surrey, BC (Lower Mainland)
  • Student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Since 1977 I have taken an interest in the aboriginal struggle to regain control of our lives, lands and resources.  In pursuing this interest I obtained a Bachelor of General Studies degree at Brandon University in the 1980s, and worked in the urban aboriginal communities in the Lower Mainland and Victoria, BC.  I have many questions about the community we have become in the last 30-40 years and that has led me to pursing a second Bachelor degree in Philosophy.  As an older learner, my learning goals are in line with a life moving towards a reflective phase.  Philosophy will give me tools to do the important work of thinking, writing and proposing ideas over the next 20-30 years.

In so many ways, I sense that our communities have become microcosms of the society we rejected in the 1970’s; stories of Aboriginal chiefs and other leaders taking home pay that is disproportional to their work and sometimes at the expense of their people.  Stories of the “Indian industry” and service delivery strategies that treat people as clients and not as people.  There is a trend I fear that our communities are fast becoming white systems fronted by red faces.

I take encouragement that these dynamics are also signs of moving towards self-governance.  I believe that we need to have a discussion of the cut-and-paste strategies that are used to develop programming and make decisions in the community.  We need time to think and to think critically, to think long term with sustainability in mind and there is much work to do in the arena of ideas.   To create organic aboriginal dynamics that are both contemporary and rooted in history and environment (tradition) requires that we start from scratch, to define and re-evaluate the role of Indigenous philosophy and spirituality and how these are in conversation with our western counterparts.

Research Question:  Philosophical thought and wisdom contribute to well thought-out answers to questions that can be applied universally in many kinds of human situations. What is the role of indigenous thought in this process? What efforts are currently being made to explore and develop the conversation between Indigenous thought and other philosophical frameworks in the world?  What is the long-term impact to the survival of indigenous cultures and peoples of an assumed under-represented indigenous philosophical voice in Canada?